UXBRIDGE: The debate over representation from the three northern municipalities (Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge) at Durham Regional Council continued in Uxbridge this week.
Included in council’s agenda for their meeting on the morning of Monday, Dec. 2, was a motion recently passed by the Town of Whitby requesting that Durham Region establish a committee to review the representation and composition of the Durham Region Council, and a question concerning the matter be included on the ballot for the 2014 municipal election.
Whitby’s council, along with Ajax have been vocal in recent months about reviewing the distribution of seats at Regional Council brought about by population growth in South Durham.
Currently, the three northern municipalities each have two representatives on Regional Council. Ajax and Clarington, with populations approaching 100,000, both have three seats. Pickering and Whitby have four seats apiece to represent their more than 100,000 residents, while the City of Oshawa maintains eight seats on Regional Council.
"Oshawa has to be prepared to give up some of those seats to Pickering, Ajax and Whitby," commented Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet.
To deal with the ongoing matter, Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle suggested establishing an ad-hoc committee to deal with issues surrounding fair and efficient representation on Regional Council.
"I don’t think we should wait, and I think there’s merit to doing the research," Councillor Mantle explained. "Representation on Regional Council could have some impact on our local representation at municipal council."
As well, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger questioned whether area will enter the equation when dealing with a possible redistribution of seats at the Regional level.
"It all seems to be driven by population, but at some point, area has to be factored in," said Councillor Ballinger. "The three northern municipalities make up more than half of the total area of Durham Region."
In the discussion, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor expressed disappointment that a similar resolution, brought forward by the Town of Ajax, was not circulated to the three northern municipalities. Instead, Clarington sent the motion to Uxbridge to be included in councillor’s agendas for their meeting on Monday, Dec. 9.
"It’s very disheartening to learn that those who we’ve sat beside for umpteen years at Regional Council don’t feel the need to include the three northern municipalities," said Mayor O’Connor. "I think the three northern municipalities have to sit down and respond. (South Durham politicians) have to understand that we have a far better understanding up north than they will ever have. They cross Hwy. 7 and they’re lost."
Mayor O’Connor proposed that council start in on a response to the recent issues brought forth from Whitby and Ajax. Once completed, the Mayor added that the municipality should work with Scugog and Brock Township on crafting a detailed response.
Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast opined that Ajax Council may be picking their battles, and rather than upset Oshawa and its eight Regional Councillors, they have directed their anger to the north instead.
"It looks like Ajax is afraid to take on Oshawa, so they’re picking on the three northern municipalities," commented Councillor Northeast.